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Day 1 – The Spark

Day 1

We’re starting this challenge gently.

There’s a lot that goes into writing a story so we’re not going to rush into things.

Later this week I’ll start helping you brainstorm the story you’re going to work on this month, but today, it’s all about ideas.

Start Gathering Story Sparks 

Story Sparks are my term for all those little ‘huh!’ moments that make your writer brain curious. 

They’re not as big as a ‘story idea’, they’re just those moments or questions that make an impact on you.

Today I’d like you to write down 3 Story Sparks, as you go through your day.

Here’s a foldable booklet for people who’d like something to carry around with them. Print this “full bleed” and use these instructions to fold your booklet.

Pop it in your pocket or your bag, and carry it with you.

Story Sparks you might catch

  • The exact sound made by the creaky floorboard by your bed
  • The smell of the air outside
  • A line from an overheard conversation
  • A description of an old house you pass
  • A line from a song
  • A stray memory

Bonus points if you include some sensory details or one really descriptive word that will bring the moment rushing back when you look over your Sparks.

I recommend you collect 3 sparks every day for a whole week and see what it does for your creativity. (You can read more about this, here. And here’s how one veteran StoryADay writer uses her Story Sparks booklets.)

Bingo Piece

Right-click to save me. Make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your first Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

I know, 31 days of this is going to be a lot of wasted paper, but you can use the scraps as book marks, places to catch story sparks, opportunities for origami…and more

Or you can use your fave image editing software to add layers to this image.

But I think rewarding yourself every day with a bit of scissors-and-glue hands-on crafting, is a much better idea!

Come back and leave a comment letting us know one of your Story Sparks from today.

33 thoughts on “Day 1 – The Spark”

  1. Love this idea! I’ve been trying to tune in more the last few days to get some sparks and jot them down. Thank you, Julie!

    1. Glad it’s working for you. AND that you are commenting today. Good for you, for jumping in now!

  2. Here are a few of mine since the challenge began:
    *OH at a concert: “Twelve years!” “Oh yeah, twelve years, man.”
    *a license plate that read YES GOD (so many potential meaning, backstories, ways it can be read!)
    *a roadkill deer that still looked graceful
    *a stopped school bus on the side of the interstate (wondering why led to the idea that will likely be my story for the month)

    Yes, I was on a road trip, haha!

  3. I was super excited by this first challenge. Here are my first 3 days of story sparks:
    Day one, overheard conversation……
    *I stumble to the shuttered window and let in shafts of sunlight.
    *I feel it’s trying to tell me a story.
    * I wandered aimlessly.
    Day two, recalled memories…
    *The urge to touch it is irresistible.
    *It glows as red as port wine.
    * My stomach churns with excitement and anticipation.
    Day three, observation….
    * It looked like tiny fairies dancing in the morning light.
    *She blew the dust off the newly discovered journal and lay it down carefully.
    * She lowered her head to breathe in the musty but evocative aromas, and memories came flooding in.
    Thank you Julie, my motivation has returned. X

  4. Your Sparks got me writing after stalling out and depression for months. Thank you for this sweet, gentle version. 🙂

  5. Starting late because travel. Richer pickings that usual because travel?
    I’ve been accompanying my husband and an old friend (who is an ordained minister) on their short lecture tour in Estonia. I heard their presentations several times. In Tartu, the lecture was held in the restored ruin of a church and the lectern was shaped like a pulpit. Our old friend stood there as if he owned the place, totally at home, hands grasping the lectern at either side. His voice took on a slow confident cadence it had totally lacked when he spoke in more academic venues.

  6. HELLO Fellow STORY SPARKERS! WOW! What a GREAT way to get our creativity FLOWING! I’ve been FLOODED with a BUNCH of STORY SPARKS, and it seems my brain just doesn’t want to shut off now! This is similar to the children’s author, Tara Lazar’s STORYSTORM every January, where the goal is to come up with at least one story idea (or title, character name, etc.) every day of the month. It ALWAYS gets my brain TICKIN’ AWAY! Julie, THANK YOU for the reminder that there are story starters/ideas EVERYWHERE–IF we CHOOSE to see them. I even had a few STORY SPARKS from a few of the words in your blog post here! A FABULOUS way to start us off! THANK YOU!!!

  7. My 3 sparks today came from conversations and songs. I’m excited because I made progress and I met a deadline.

  8. Thought about the downed Aspen trees and burning their branches, how when raking up the bits & pieces of old withered black branches they would spring through the tangs of my metal rake. Images about my garden delighted me this morning while I threw a yucky, mud encased woven ball for my black lab while attending the fire.
    Thank you for starting slowly…my mind is working on several other writing projects.

  9. Day one- three sparks- done! It’s 11:18 pm. I didn’t leave too much time to go but it’s all good because my brain was working on this throughout the day.

  10. Such a marvelous idea! Hmm…never done this before.

    1. I find it interesting as to how cloudy days vs sunny days affect my mood and energy. This could spark a terrifying story idea – dangerous!
    2. Listening to my son playing a video game with a friend on the other side of the country – Xbox I think. One, I’m amazed as to how technology has advanced since I was a kid; two, listening to the sound of his voice – so manly and grown up now and nostalgia hits as I remember the little boy he used to be.
    3. The blueness of my Siamese cat’s eyes – how unlike the other breeds of cats I have in the house.

    Not sure if I did this right, but this made me become much more aware of my surrounding. 🙂

    1. I think these are excellent sparks. Details that you have captured and that might be given to a character or sidekick one day

  11. I love the no stress start to the challenge! I had 4 story sparks before lunch. (And a bonus: some extra exercise.)

  12. I wrote one story spark this morning and was amazed where it took me. A colour stood out to me – because I don’t like that colour. I immediately questioned why I don’t like it, which led to several analogies and metaphors of what that colour means to me, which led to a writing prompt that I can use in my current writing project. I wonder if the things we observe around us are sometimes connected to what’s going on inside us, and what might seem like a random observation could be a hint at something we need for that day. I’m a bit of a deep thinker LOL.

    1. Wonderful!

      And yes, we jokingly call ourselves, around here, “Over-thinkers, Anonymous”

  13. I didn’t think I would get three sparks today … I wasn’t planning to leave the house. But, apparently it is still possible. WOW!
    Off to a good start so far.

    1. It was tough to make the switch from picking Story Sparks up in the wider world and within my four walls when the pandemic hit, but it’s amazing what a curious mind can do when pressed . Well done 😉

  14. Story Sparks
    Maya Angelou’s “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it,” resonated with me today and made me think about developing a character or series of characters who, cannot get what they want, simply because they don’t believe they will get it and so miss the opportunities as they come up.

  15. Went for a looong walk this morning and travelled in the opposite direction to that I usually take. I tend to live too much in my head to notice my surroundings, but switching it up forced me to notice things I usually bypass. Wrote them all down when I came home 🙂

  16. Gathering sparks in one of my favorite parts about writing! And even though thinking out a plot, theme, chracters (and the writing itself) is also incredibly fun, I have more sparks than I know what to do what them 😂 (Oh, just noticed the link to how to fold the booklet is broken, oops!)

    Excited about the Fun-Size edition! I am always willing to try everything, but I don’t always finish (especially because I’m so drawn to novels) so when I tried StoryADay, I couldn’t write a story, every day, for a month. Nevertheless, I know short stories are great practice, and it’s such a rich and interesting format, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this turns out! And what a sweet idea the bingo is, too! 😄

    Thank you, Julie! Have a lovely day, week, month, and so on 🍀🌻🧡

    Cariños desde Argentina,
    Rosario.

    1. Rosario, I couldn’t agree more! i too am a novelist, so this challenge is a great way to get the creative juices flowing, without the stress of writing a story everyday.
      Write on!

    2. Glad to have you here, Rosario.

      I’ve fixed the link now, thanks for letting me know.

  17. I collect three sparks already. This is something I often forget to do.
    They might help we think of fun things for my newsletter

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